EconoCon25 2016

Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
May 18-20, 2016

EconoCon25 Agenda

In authentic AEO fashion, EconoCon25 will bring together leading minds to engage, collaborate, and innovate on the most pressing topics impacting microbusiness. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn, discuss, and share evolving ideas through various session formats.   

Session Format Key:

 Keynote Address

Single Speaker

Keynote Conversation

Interview Discussion

Plenary Panel

Moderator-lead panel discussion

Transformation in Micro – Rapid-paced lively talk

An Industry Moment

An AEO Throwback

Breakout Session

Engaging Panel Discussion

Interactive Town Hall

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

12:00 – 2:00


Trusted Guidance: Shifting the Support Landscape for Main Street - In a town hall format, business service providers, funders, lenders and more, will discuss how to transform technical assistance into scalable, sustainable, and high-impact guidance for Main Street business owners. Lunch is provided.

3:00 – 3:15

Conference Welcome

3:15 – 3:45

Keynote Address: Driving Financial Inclusion through Entrepreneurship

3:45 – 4:15

Keynote Conversation: How Credit Technology is Driving Financial Inclusion

With the rapid advancement of innovations in financial technology (FinTech) and the availability of data, there is a unique opportunity to reduce pervasive financial exclusion. While non-banking institutions have served as the main drivers of growth in this sector, mainstream banks are now getting on board. 

Conversations for consideration:

What happens when one of the largest banks in the nation gets on board with innovative credit technology? Can credit technology solve the challenges in reaching the financially excluded? How can institutions mitigate the risks of technology and data being used to exclude certain demographic groups? Can we truly resolve the declined requests for capital from underserved entrepreneurs, totaling eight thousand each day?

 4:15 – 4:25


4:25 – 4:55

Plenary Panel: Entrepreneurship Powered by Inclusion

Panelists: Bea Stotzer, Veronica Hix

Moderator: Gina Wood

Beyond the creation of jobs and wealth, entrepreneurship serves an even more essential function to Americans — it embodies our shared belief in limitless individual opportunity. Among underserved populations such as women and minorities, talents and hidden invaluable assets are often overlooked. This is an engaging discussion on the re-emergence of entrepreneurship and inclusion as American imperatives. 

Conversations for consideration:

If we agree that entrepreneurship is the engine that drives economic inclusion, then how does our industry find the hidden or overlooked dreamers and ignite success? 

4:55 – 5:05

An Industry Moment

Speakers: Gary Lindner, Steve LaFredo

5:05 – 5:15

 Unveiling the Tilt Forward Network

5:15- 5:30

5:30- 7:00

EconoCon 25 Welcome Reception

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Registration Opens

7:15 – 8:50

Breakfast Networking

8:50 - 9:00

An Industry Moment

Speaker: Sara Gould

9:00 – 9:15

Keynote Address: Economic Transformation: Facing the Elephant in the Room

Speaker: Connie Evans, AEO

9:15 – 9:45

Plenary Panel:  Facing the Future: Preparing for an Evolving Economy

Panelists: Jamil Poonja, Thumbtack, Jonny Price, Kiva Zip

AEO Members focus on the impact of economic transformation on solo, micro, and small businesses. 

Conversations for consideration:

What can AEO, its members and partners, do in the short and long-term that will have meaningful impact in aiding underserved entrepreneurs to manage and address the swift moving economic disruptions and transformations?

9:45 – 10:00

Keynote Address: Seeding the Growth of Women Business Leaders

10:00 – 10:30

Plenary Panel:  From Owning the Pond to Owning the Ocean

Panelists: Rebecca Magee, Eileen Fisher

Moderator: Sara Gould, former President of Ms. Foundation for Women

The microbusiness industry is unique. Owning the pond has been a rallying cry for women to join the ranks of business ownership. As a new era unfolds, women must transcend that philosophy and pursue owning the ocean.

Conversations for consideration:

When is the pond not enough? What will it take to help women achieve confidence and to support their growth in leadership and in business?

10:30 – 11:00

Exhibition Coffee Break 

11:00 – 12:00

Breakout Sessions

Driving Inclusion

Disrupting the Opportunity Barrier: Linking Millennials to Microbusiness

Moderator: Jonathan Herman, AEO Board

Bo Ghirardelli, Founder & CEO Youth Business USA
Samia Malik, Program Director, Chatham Business Association
Thais Rezende, AEO Board

Young people drop out of education and employment systems and depend on “the hustle” to get by – creative, quick-turnaround ways to make money. In the hustle mindset, there’s a wealth of creativity that can evolve into entrepreneurship with the right training. This session will explore the findings of AEO’s latest research on linking opportunity youth to microbusiness. Join experts as they take a dynamic look inside both the potential and the challenges of serving the needs of entrepreneurs in this age range (18-24), and why meeting this challenge is so important to our global economic competitiveness.

Innovate Faster. Partner Smarter. Execute Better

The Secrets to Preparing Your Entrepreneurs for a Crowdfunding Campaign

Moderator:Julie Abrams Speakers:
Justin Renfro
Kiva Zip
Breanna DiGiammarino, Indigogo

The growing popularity of crowdfunding has created a new fundraising mechanism for entrepreneurs, particularly women and minority entrepreneur who have at times felt ostracized by the more traditional ways of raising money to start or grow their business. But as crowdfunding makes gains in popularity, the battle for page views and pledges has become increasingly competitive, especially on portal sites that feature thousands of live projects at once. So how are entrepreneurs, especially when they are micro and small businesses, supposed to find success in crowdfunding? We’ve brought the experts who can identify the techniques, strategies, and crowdfunding secrets that will give you the best chance of helping the entrepreneurs in your program meet their goals for a successful campaign.

Responding to Economic Disruption and Transformation

Intersection of Microbusiness and Health Care Transformation

Moderator:Rhett Buttle, SBM

Howard Genderson, Pfizer
Yanique Redwood, The Consumer Health Foundation
Deborah Bae, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The transformation in the healthcare industry has led to increased out of pocket dollars for healthcare even for those with insurance. Small business owners have a keen interest in helping employees stay healthy and pleased with their work environment. As the smallest of businesses are less likely to offer health care for their employees, they have a vested interest in knowing how they can best keep health care costs down, increase employee productivity, and keep employees longer by providing a comfortable and nurturing work place environment. How can the microbusiness/microfinance industry help? Discover the opportunities technical assistance providers and mission-focused lenders have to support businesses in this fast changing health and wellness industry. This session will explore the trends in the consumer health and wellness market, potential cross-sector partnerships and the opportunities for products and service models that meet at the intersection of microbusiness and transformation in the consumer health care industry.

Driving Inclusion

How Race and Culture Affects Portfolio Management or Does It?

Moderator:Leslie Hoffman


Innovate Faster. Partner Smarter. Execute Better

Smart Strategies for Helping Your Customers to Grow their Business

Responding to Economic Disruption and Transformation

Look at What’s Revolutionizing Philanthropy

12:00 – 2:00

Silver Celebration Awards Luncheon

Mott Foundation
Bob Friedman
Kirkland Ellis

2:00 – 3:00

EconoConnect: Dessert Networking in the Exhibit Hall

3:00 – 4:00

Breakout Sessions

Driving Inclusion

Unlocking Entrepreneurial Opportunity with Big Data Philanthropy

Moderator:Tammy Halevy, AEO

Judy Hackett, D&B

Just as the ability to access and analyze mountains of new information is transforming corporations, the era of big data has the potential to revolutionize the world of philanthropy and impact investment—for both funders and AEO members. Funders are seeking data and insights to make more, better and faster decisions about where to channel dollars. Community organizations that provide guidance and critical resources to underserved entrepreneurs can use the insights to shape strategy, resource allocation and demonstrate impact from fulfilling their missions. In this session you will hear about opportunities to mobilize investment and support for underserved Main Street businesses using big data philanthropy. AEO recently partnered with IBM Global Services and Dunn &Bradstreet to size the market of small businesses in low-wealth communities. The joint team will share their findings and insights into how to make “Big Data Philanthropy” work on behalf of Main Streets in low-wealth communities. You will also hear from other companies that have brought to bear their data and analytic capabilities in support of our mission.

Innovate Faster. Partner Smarter. Execute Better.

How Human Centered is Your Program

Lauren Williams, CFED
Julianna Silva, WESST
Amanda Blondeau, NI

What motivates your microbusiness clients to learn new business skills? What drives them to change their financial management behaviors? What keeps them coming to your organization for services? Nonprofits and government agencies rarely have the budgets, flexibility or capacity for experimental research and development practices that the corporate world so commonly employs. But, by adopting a new mindset and mastering a few basic methods, organizations can make strides toward creating more effective, intuitive, customer-centered products and services in an iterative way. Human-centered design is a problem-solving approach that places the user—your microbusiness clients—at the helm of solutions designed to help them. In this session, participants will learn how microbusiness development organizations have used human-centered design to transform their own practices through a thorough case study based on CFED’s Microbusiness Solutions Learning Cluster in 2015. We’ll detail the barriers and opportunities for improvement uncovered through the process; the solutions designed to address them; and the results of testing these solutions with clients to generate feedback.

Responding to Economic Disruption and Transformation

Uberizing the Economy

Moderator:Ida Radamacher

Claudia Viek, CAMEO
Kiva Zip
Steve King, Emergent Research

As self-employment and start-ups and one-person microbusinesses comprise a larger share of the workforce, workers are becoming more free and more at risk. Many enjoy the challenge, but few are secure. Some call it a great resurgence in the entrepreneurial economy which is very much welcomed. Others point to concerns about the support system for these new workers in the economy. This session will focus on the emerging On-Demand, self-employed workforce. What tools and services can be provided to support an ecosystem of a locally grown micro business economy? What role can government and others play to meet their needs and allow them to create a sustainable future for themselves and their families?
4:00 – 4:30

EconoConnect: Networking

4:30 – 5:15


Under Thirty-Five: Sound Off. Shape the Future

Discussants: Alex Forrester, Samira Cook-Gaines, Lauren Williams (CFED)

Diverse, talented, young professionals from across the country are making an impact by working to create opportunities for underserved entrepreneurs. These young professionals are in the corporate, nonprofit, and tech/start-up sectors. They are the microfinance industry’s next generation of CEOs, political geniuses, innovators, and thought leaders. Young professionals will network, exchange ideas and best practices, share innovations, speak out on microbusiness development, and make their concerns and suggestions heard.

Conversations for consideration:

How can the industry provide space needed for young professionals to create opportunities and solve problems that the industry is facing? How can the industry invest more in young professionals to ensure their leadership in the industry? What do young professionals see as the future of microfinance and microbusiness? What roles do they want to have in that future?

Innovation: Improving Capital Access to Small Businesses

Discussants: Annie Donovan, CDFI Fund

Tammy Halevy, AEO Eric Weaver, Opportunity Fund Susan Koehler, Sam’s Club Moderator: Melissa Bradley, Director for the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative, American University Small businesses are denied credit 8,000 times a day in the United States, representing a $52 billion gap in credit needs. This gap cannot be filled without innovative business models that include unique resources and capabilities from technology companies, CDFIs, and others. Major announcements for innovative projects were made in 2015 at The Clinton Global Initiative America, by the CDFI Fund at the Department of Treasury, and elsewhere. What impact are these innovations expected to have? How will they increase the flow of investments to underserved communities? What's being done to facilitate collaboration rather than competition and early adoption rather than status quo?

Capitol to Capitol: Leveraging Allies for Policy Advocacy

Discussants: Andrea Levere, CFED

Maya Rockeymoore, Global Policy Solutions Jane Campbell, NDC Usman Ahmed, PayPal Moderator: Ann Sullivan Microbusiness development, like other asset-building work, advocates for policies and programs that create and protect opportunities for low-wealth individuals and families to invest in themselves and their communities. This town hall session will explore how AEO’s current and potential national allies are working with city, state and federal governments to adopt, strengthen, or change policies that affect our work. Conversations for consideration: Where are there opportunities to partner with city and state officials to champion economic opportunity for underserved entrepreneurs? How do we create stronger collaborations to impact policy debates at city halls, state capitols, and the halls of Washington D.C.?
6:00 – 8:00

Silver Celebration Cocktail Party

Friday, May 20, 2016


Registration Opens

7:30 – 8:50

EconoConnect: Breakfast Networking

8:50 – 9:00

An Industry Moment

9:00 – 10:45

Beyond the Challenges: Reframing the Opportunities for Black-Owned Business

9:10 – 10:00

Roundtable Conversations – Black Businesses

Doyle Mitchell, Industrial Bank
Natalie Cofield, Walker’s Legacy
Jessica Norwood, Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow
Donna Gambrell, Former CDFI Director
Stefanie Thomas, Impact America Fund
Moderator: Roland S. Martin
Moderated by award winning journalist Roland Martin, industry leaders will discuss the state of Main Street black-owned businesses. Discussants will go beyond the challenges of underperformance of these businesses and shed new understanding on solutions that will advance equity and inclusion and point to the need to elevate the solutions as a national priority.
The Roundtable discussion will be followed by Q&A with the panel. Conference attendees will also have
time to discuss the issues with peers at their round tables.
10:00 - 10:20

Q&A – Live Twitter Town Hall w/ Roundtable Discussants

10:20 - 10:25

Mic Toss – Roland introduces Natalie Cofield

10:25 – 10:45

Table Talk – Black Businesses

10:45 – 11:00

Chair’s Recognition “Legacy Holders & Rising Stars”

11:00 – 11:30

Plenary Closing Panel – Where will the money come from?

Robert (Bob) Friedman and Connie Evans

In order to implement the goals and solutions envisioned at this conference thought leaders, funders and investors must make a greater investment in the microbusiness community. Whether it is leveraging opportunities, meeting challenges, achieving scale, or driving financial inclusion, every stakeholder has a responsibility to support the future of microbusiness. 

Conversations for consideration:

Where will future investment come from? What will it take to attract and deploy capital? How will subsidies be more efficiently deployed? This final session for EconoCon25 will begin to form a roadmap for the future.